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Barings bullish on global outlook for commodities

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- Increased exposure to base metals to meet China demand
- Increased allocation to precious metals planned to protect against inflation

London, 17 March: In light of China’s continued focus on infrastructure expansion, Jonathan Blake, manager of Baring Asset Management’s Baring Global Resources Fund has increased the fund’s weightings in base metals from 43% at the end of December to 48% by the end of February, with a particular focus on bulk commodities such as iron ore and copper.   

With infrastructure spending in China rising by 42% in 2009 after increasing by 21% in 2008(1), demand for a select group of hard commodities, continues to grow. 

Blake comments: “Much of this infrastructure investment is to meet the demands of urbanisation, the scale and speed of which is staggering.  It has been estimated that an average of 17 million people will be added to China’s urban population each year between 2000 and 2025.”

Blake also plans to increase the Fund’s allocation to precious metals – predominately gold and platinum – over the next three to six months reflecting both an expected improvement in the fundamentals for these markets as well as providing protection against any rise in inflation over the medium-term. 

Blake comments: “Quantitative easing has, to some extent, undermined confidence in currencies, such as the US dollar and has heightened expectations of a rise in inflation at some point in the future.  This boosts gold’s appeal as an alternative store of value.  Looking at platinum, we expect a recovery in the jewellery sector in China and strong emerging market car sales to offset subdued demand from developed markets.”
 
Despite a relatively muted short-term outlook for oil demand and the need in the medium-term for a solid recovery in OECD countries, Barings believes that the long-term fundamentals support prices above $80 a barrel. 

Blake adds: “We continue to favour stocks in the shorter term that can outperform in a benign oil price environment and for this reason are targeting companies involved in upstream activities such as exploration or are able to materially increase either current production and/or reserves.”  

While Barings is positive about the medium-term outlook for the soft commodities sector, it sees particularly attractive opportunities in the fertiliser market.  The reduced use of fertilisers in 2009 is leading to a rebound this year as farmers have effectively mined the soil of nutrients and these will need to be replaced.  Furthermore, fertiliser volumes are expected to receive an additional boost through the restocking of the supply chain.  

Blake concludes: “We believe the long-term case for resource equities is attractive, driven by sustainable global demand led by China, and instability of supply.  In the short-term there will be plenty of volatility but this presents some tremendous opportunities for skilful stock picking.”

Over the past twelve months the Fund has posted a return of 55.7% versus a 57.5% return from the comparative index (60% MSCI World Metals & Mining Index/ 40% MSCI World Energy Index).(2)

ENDS

(1)Source: NBS, Ecowin, Dragonomics, Macquarie Research, February 2010
(2)Source: All performance, Morningstar in US$ on a bid to bid basis with gross income reinvested, as at 29th January 2010

Notes to editors

For Further Enquiries:

Baring Asset Management
Joanna Pope – Pr Manager  
TEL: +44 (0) 20 7214 1862

Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Jo Skinner  
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7282 1092
 
Sophie Woodcock 
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7282 1072

IMPORTANT INFORMATION - BARING ASSET MANAGEMENT
www.barings.com
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About Baring Asset Management
Baring Asset Management is an international investment management firm with investment skills, clients and business locations spanning world markets.  Our investment competency encompasses developed and emerging market equity, fixed income and multi-asset portfolio management services offered to institutions, retail investors and private individuals.  Worldwide clients include public and corporate pension plans, government agencies, financial institutions, charitable organisations, mutual funds and private individuals.

Baring Asset Management is part of the MassMutual Financial Group, a global, diversified financial services organization. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) is one of the largest life insurance businesses in the USA.

This document is not an offer to sell or an invitation to apply for any product or service of Baring Asset Management.
This Press release includes and is based on forward-looking information and statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ. Such forward-looking information and statements are based on current expectations, estimates and projections.  Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expectations include, among others, interest rates and fluctuations in currency exchange rates.  Although Baring Asset Management believes that its expectations and the information in this press release were based upon reasonable assumptions at the time when they were made, it can give no assurance that those expectations will be achieved or that the actual results will be as set out in this press release. Barings undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking information or statements in the press release. 

Past performance is not a guide to future performance.  The value of investments and any income from them may go down as well as up. You may not get back all of your original investment. You should not make any assumptions about the future on the basis of this information.

For data sourced from Morningstar: © Morningstar, Inc. all rights reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information.

Version 03/2010